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Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data

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Data extracted in March 2022

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Highlights

866 million tonnes of goods were handled in the main EU ports in the third quarter of 2021.

The gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports increased by 7.5 % in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of 2020.

Rotterdam remains the largest EU port with 115 million tonnes of goods handled in the third quarter of 2021.


[[File:Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in EU main ports2021Q3.xlsx]]

Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in EU main ports (2015Q3-2021Q3)

This article presents the main results from quarterly statistics on maritime transport of goods in the European Union (EU), plus figures for Norway, Montenegro and Turkey. It covers the gross weight of goods handled in the main European ports, by type of cargo, direction, reporting country and various partner regions. These data are complemented by maritime transport flows with the main extra-EU partners, and with individual results for the major European ports.

The article contains data for the third quarter of 2021. Please note that the quarterly port activity figures are provisional and subject to revisions.


Full article


Gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports increased by 7.5 % in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of 2020

At 866 million tonnes, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports increased by 1.5 % in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the previous quarter and by 7.5 % versus the same quarter of 2020 (Figures 1 and 2). This growth shows a partial recovery of maritime transport that had plummeted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions put in place in the EU and worldwide.

After the steady recovery observed since the second quarter of 2010 following the economic crisis, and the peak of activity reached in the third quarter of 2019, maritime transport observed a downwards trend until the third quarter of 2020.

When looking at the overall annual change, an increase of 2.2 % was observed in EU ports activity in terms of gross weight of goods handled compared to the previous period (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by direction, EU, 2009Q3-2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhd)


Inward movement of goods were 59.5 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU ports in the third quarter of 2021

The inward movements of goods made 59.5 % of the total volume of goods handled in the main EU ports in the third quarter of 2021. This share increased by 0.4 percentage points (p.p.) compared to the previous quarter and by 0.6 p.p. compared to the third quarter of the previous year.

Compared to the third quarter of 2020, the inward movements of goods to the main EU ports increased by 8.5 %, to 515 million tonnes in the third quarter of 2021. Outward movements increased by 6.0 % over the same period, up to 350 million tonnes.

When looking at the overall annual aggregate, the inward movements of goods increased by 1.4 % while outward movements grew by 3.4 %.

Figure 2: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, EU, 2009Q3-2021Q3
(% change rate on same quarter of previous year and 'annual' change rate)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhd)

Other general cargo registered a growth of 24.3 % in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of 2020

Compared to the same quarter of 2020, all types of cargo increased in the third quarter of 2021. The largest growth was registered by other general cargo (+24.3 %), followed by dry bulk goods (+10.4 %), Roll on - roll off (Ro-Ro) units (+6.4 %), liquid bulk goods (+5.7 %) and large containers (+4.8 %). When looking at the overall annual change, other general cargo increased by 12.1 %, ro-Ro units by 8.8 %, large containers by 4.9 % and dry bulk goods by 1.7 % whereas liquid bulk goods fell by 2.9 % (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of cargo, EU, 2019Q3-2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhk)

Netherlands, Italy and Spain handled more than 100 million tonnes of goods in the third quarter of 2021

In the third quarter of 2021, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain were the EU countries with the largest amount of maritime freight handled in their main ports, handling more than 100 million tonnes of goods (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, 2020Q3, 2021Q2 and 2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_cwh)

In the third quarter of 2021, six of the maritime EU Member States reported a decrease in the tonnes of goods handled in their main ports compared to the same quarter of 2020 (Table 1). In relative terms, the largest decrease was observed for Portugal (-10.0 %, taking into account that data for Lisbon are not included in the third quarter of 2021), followed by Latvia (-8.9 %), Croatia (-7.9 %), Lithuania (-7.1 %), Greece (-3.2 %) and Cyprus (-2.4 %). The candidate country Montenegro also reported a decrease by 1.3 %. On the other hand, Romania reported the highest increase in main port activity in this period (+25.2 %). Several countries, among which Bulgaria (+24.6 %), Slovenia (+21.3 %), Malta (+19.8 %), the Netherlands (+17.6 %), Estonia (+15.9 %) and Italy (+11.7 %), recorded noticeable growths in this period.

When looking at the overall annual change, only five Member States recorded a decrease. The largest drops were recorded by Latvia (-13.9 %), followed by Finland (-9.4 %), Greece (-5.6 %), Bulgaria (-5.5 %) and Portugal (-1.2 %, taking into account that data for Lisbon are not included in the second and third quarter of 2021). The candidate country Montenegro also reported a substantial decrease by 11.2 %.The most noticeable growth was observed in Malta (+52.6 %).

Table 1: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports, in selected quarters, 2019Q3-2021Q3
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_cwh)

Russia remained the EU’s largest maritime transport partner in the third quarter of 2021

It should be noted that the figures presented in this section may be influenced by variations in the level of transport reported with unknown partner region. In particular, this level was particularly high in the data reported in the third quarter 2021 compared to previous quarters.

At 558 million tonnes, short sea shipping tonnages to and from the main EU ports increased by 5.4 % in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter in 2020. Deep sea shipping tonnages saw also a growth of 4.4 %, to 279 million tonnes (Figure 5). When looking at the overall annual change, both short sea shipping and deep sea shipping increased compared to the previous period (+2.4 % and +0.3 % respectively).

Figure 5: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of shipping, EU, 2019Q3-2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhg)

Between the third quarter of 2020 and the third quarter of 2021, international extra-EU transport increased by 6.3 %, international intra-EU transport by 3.6 % and national transport by 1.9 % (Figure 6). When looking at the overall annual change, national transport decreased by 4.8 % compared to the previous period whereas international intra-EU transport grew by 3.0 % and international extra-EU transport by 2.4 %.

Figure 6: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by type of transport, EU, 2019Q3-2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewht)

The increase in international extra-EU transport in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter in 2020 was mainly due to the growth in seaborne transport with ‘ ‘Europe except EU’ (+10 million tonnes or +5.4 %) and ‘Asia and Oceania’ (+9 million tonnes or +8.0 %) (Figure 7). Transport with the other partner regions Africa and America also increased, by 8.2 % and 4.8 % respectively. When looking at the overall annual change, seaborne transport with all partner regions recorded a growth compared to the previous period, the highest being for ‘Europe except EU’ (+4.2 %).

Figure 7: Gross weight of seaborne goods handled in main ports by partner regions, EU, 2019Q3-2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhg)

In terms of the total gross weight of goods, Russia was the EU’s largest maritime transport partner in the third quarter of 2021, followed by the United Kingdom, the United States of America (USA), Turkey, China, Brazil, Norway, Egypt, Canada and Nigeria (Figure 8). EU transport with Russia represented 13.1 % of the total extra-EU maritime transport.

Maritime transport between the EU and Nigeria recorded the largest fall in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of 2020 (-8.8 %). Norway and Canada were the other partner countries with which EU maritime traffic decreased in the same period (-4.8 % and -2.1 % respectively). In contrast traffic with the United Kingdom and Russia increased substantially over the same period, by 9.3 % and 8.7 % respectively.

When looking at the overall annual change, transport with the United Kingdom substantially increased compared to the previous period (+13.2 %). In contrast, the largest decreases were observed for transport between the EU and Egypt (-14.2 %) and between the EU and Nigeria (-13.8 %).

Figure 8: Top 10 extra-EU partner countries in maritime transport, EU, 2020Q3-2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewhp)

A substantial share of the seaborne transport with Russia is made up of inward movements of liquid bulk goods to the main EU ports, particularly crude oil and oil products from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea (Figure 9). Even though Russia was the main partner of the EU in the third quarter of 2021, the main maritime trade flow concerned inward movements of large containers from China, with 15.7 million tonnes. When looking at outward movements, large containers going to China were the second main maritime trade flow, after the outward movements of Ro-Ro mobile units to the United Kingdom.

In the third quarter of 2021, the top 20 trade flows were largely dominated by inward movements of liquid bulk goods (crude oil and oil products), with the following exceptions: large containers from China and the United Kingdom, ores from Canada and Brazil, agricultural products from Brazil, coal from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea, as well as outward movements of large containers to China, the East coast of the USA and the United Kingdom, as well as Ro-Ro mobile units to the United Kingdom.

Figure 9: Top 20 extra-EU maritime trade flows, EU, 2020Q3, 2021Q2 and 2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewh)

In the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of 2020, there were substantial increases in the inward and outward movements; the most noticeable being for crude oil from Libya (+1 358.2 %), large containers to the United Kingdom (+118.9 %) and from the United Kingdom (+98.3 %), ores from Brazil (+73.4 %), oil products from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea (+49.7 %) and crude oil from Russian ports on the Baltic Sea (+37.5 %). By contrast, large decreases were observed in the inward movements of crude oil from Russian ports in the Black Sea (-29.5 %), the East coast of the USA (-23.5 %) and the United Kingdom (-18.5 %)(Table 2).

When looking at the overall annual change, 14 of the top 20 maritime trade flows recorded a growth compared to the previous period. The highest increase was registered in the inward movements of crude oil from Libya (+219.1 %), followed by outward movements of large containers to the East coast of the USA (+117.1 %) and inward movements of large containers from the United Kingdom (+87.0 %). In contrast, large drops were recorded in the inward movements of crude oil from Nigeria (-23.0 %) and agricultural products from Brazil (-15.6 %).

Table 2: Top 20 extra-EU maritime trade flows, EU, in selected quarters, 2019Q3-2021Q3
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_ewh)

Rotterdam remained the EU port with largest activity in the third quarter of 2021

Rotterdam was by far the EU port with largest activity in the third quarter of 2021, with 115 million tonnes of gross weight of goods handled (Figure 10). Rotterdam was the main EU port for all types of cargo (Figures 11 to 16). The second main port was Antwerpen, which handled less than half of the tonnage recorded by Rotterdam (53 million tonnes). The third port was Hamburg with 28 million tonnes. The fourth and fifth ports were Algeciras and Amsterdam with each 21 million tonnes. Among the five ports only the last two ports registered a decrease compared to the third quarter of 2020; the highest being for Algeciras (-3.2 %), followed by Amsterdam (-0.7 %). In the same period, Rotterdam substantially increased by 18.3 %, Antwerpen by 4.3 % and Hamburg by 2.8 %.

When looking at the overall annual change, the situation is similar; only the last two ports registered a decrease: Amsterdam by 6.1 % and Algeciras by 3.0 %. In contrast, the largest growth was observed for Rotterdam (+9.1 %), while Antwerpen and Hamburg increased both by 3.6 %.

Figure 10: Top 5 EU maritime ports, 2020Q3-2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwh)

When looking at liquid bulk, Rotterdam was by far the main EU port in the third quarter of 2021, followed by Antwerpen, Trieste, Marseille and Amsterdam (Figure 11). The port of Marseille registered the largest decrease (-8.1 %) compared to the same quarter of 2020. The port of Trieste also substantially fell by 7.5 % compared to the same quarter of 2020 leading to an overall annual change rate compared to the previous period of -8.1 %. Amsterdam also recorded a substantial decrease of the overall annual change rate compared to the previous period (-7.6 %). In contrast, Rotterdam was the only port of the top five to record a growth in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of 2020 (+17.2 %) and also a growth of the overall annual change rate compared to the previous period (+2.7 %).

Figure 11: Top 5 EU maritime ports for liquid bulk, 2020Q3-2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwhl)

When looking at dry bulk, Rotterdam was again by far the main EU ports in the third quarter of 2021, followed by Constanta, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Klaipeda (Figure 12). Constanta reported a substantial growth in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of 2020 (+54.9 %). Rotterdam and Hamburg also increased substantially, by 38.3 % and 12.4 % respectively. In contrast, Klaipeda and Amsterdam recorded a substantial decrease over the same period (-15.4 % and -6.3 % respectively). When looking at the overall annual change rate compared to the previous period, all ports reported substantial growths, with the exception of Amsterdam (-7.1 %). Rotterdam registered the highest growth (+16.0 %), followed by Constanta (+10.2 %), Hamburg (+9.9 %) and Klaipeda (+7.9 %).

Figure 12: Top 5 EU maritime ports for dry bulk, 2020Q3-2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwhb)

In the large container cargo segment, Rotterdam, Antwerpen and Hamburg remained the three main EU ports in the third quarter of 2021, followed by Valencia and Algeciras (Figure 13). Algeciras was the only port to record a decrease compared to the same quarter of the previous year (-13.4 %) and in the overall annual change (-6.5 %). Valencia and Hamburg also showed a fall compared to the same quarter of the previous year (-4.6 % and -2.0 % respectively), but increased when looking at the overall annual change compared to the previous period (+10.2 % and +1.4 % respectively)Rotterdam and Antwerpen increased by 9.7 % and 6.2 %, respectively, compared to the same quarter of the previous year, leading to overall annual change of 9.3 % 5.6 % compared to the previous period.

Figure 13: Top 5 EU maritime ports for large containers, 2020Q3-2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwhc)

When looking at the number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled in the same period, the ranking was similar to the one based on tonnes of containerised goods. However, Piraeus took the place of Algeciras, which was out of the top five based on TEUs compared to the ranking in the third quarter 2021 (Figure 14). Rotterdam and Antwerpen increased in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of 2020 (+10.0 % and +3.3 % respectively, whereas the three other ports decreased:Piraeus (-2.8 %), Hamburg (-2.3 %) and Valencia (-1.6 %). Regarding the overall annual change compared to the previous period, all ports recorded a growth with the exception of Piraeus (-9.0 %). Rotterdam recorded the highest growth (+10.6 %), followed by Valencia (+8.8 %), Antwerpen (+5.8 %) and Hamburg (+1.7 %).

Figure 14: Top 5 EU maritime ports for large containers, 2020Q3-2021Q3
(thousand TEUs)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pvh)

When looking at the tonnage of Ro-Ro mobile units, the picture is very different compared to the other types of cargo, even though Rotterdam was again the largest EU Ro-Ro port in the third quarter of 2021. It was followed by Calais, Lubeck, Dublin and Livorno.

Compared to the same quarter of 2020, Rotterdam and Lubeck recorded large increases (+36.9 % and +24.3 % respectively), in the third quarter of 2021while Calais remained relatively stable (+0.4 %). In contrast, Livorno and Dublin substantially decreased by 13.2 % and 12.3 % respectively. When looking at the overall annual change compared to the previous period, all ports recorded substantial increases, with the exception of Dublin (-4.3 %). The highest increase was recorded by Rotterdam, with +35.5 %, followed by Lubeck (+18.6 %), Calais (+18.5 %) and Livorno (+14.3 %).

Figure 15: Top 5 EU maritime ports for Ro-Ro mobile units, 2020Q3-2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwhr)

When looking at the tonnes of other general cargo, three Dutch ports were part of the top five EU ports in the third quarter of 2021. Rotterdam ranked first, ‘Zeeland ports’ second and Amsterdam fifth. Valencia ranked third and Antwerpen fourth. Amsterdam registered the largest increase compared to the same quarter of 2020, by 33.8 %, followed by ‘Zeeland ports’ (+33.7 %), Antwerpen (+23.3 %), Rotterdam (+18.6 %) and Valencia (+18.0 %). When looking at the overall annual change rates compared to the previous period, all ports recorded a growth: Rotterdam by 30.5 %, ‘Zeeland ports’ by 14.8 %, Valencia by 11.4 %, Antwerpen by 10.8 % and Amsterdam by 0.7 %.

Figure 16: Top 5 EU maritime ports for other general cargo, 2020Q3-2021Q3
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_qg_qm_pwho)

Data sources and availability

The content of this statistical article is based on data collected within the framework of the EU maritime transport statistics Directive 2009/42/EC on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea.

EU aggregates refer to the total of 22 maritime Member States. Czechia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia have no maritime ports. Norway and Iceland provide Eurostat with data as members of the European Economic Area (EEA). However, quarterly data are currently not available for Iceland. The EEA country Liechtenstein has no maritime ports. The candidate countries Montenegro and Turkey provide data on a voluntary basis.

'Main ports' are ports handling more than 1 million tonnes of goods annually (however, data for some smaller ports may be included in the published results). Data are presented at the level of 'statistical ports'. A statistical port consists of one or more ports, normally controlled by a single port authority, able to record ship and cargo movements. All tables are based on ports’ total (inward + outward) declarations. The results represent the 'handling' of goods in ports.

The 'short sea shipping' aggregate (in Figure 5) includes partner ports geographically situated in Europe, on the Mediterranean or on the Black Sea. 'Deep sea shipping' is the complementary geographical aggregate, covering maritime transport of goods on intercontinental routes, crossing oceans. A more extensive definition of 'short sea shipping' is available in the article Maritime transport statistics - short sea shipping of goods.

The concept of maritime transport trade (in Figure 9 and Table 2) is defined using the following three variables:

  1. Direction: 'inwards' transport is distinguished from 'outwards' transport.
  2. Partner geographical area (partner region): usually this corresponds to one country, with the exception of countries of such a size and/or geographical position that the location of individual ports may be quite different and may have a strong impact on the maritime route followed. For example, the ports of the United States of America are grouped in two geographical areas: 'East Coast' (including Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes and Puerto Rico) and 'West Coast' (Pacific).
  3. Type of cargo: the following thirteen cargo types are used in Figure 9 and Table 2: liquefied gas, crude oil, oil products, other liquid bulk goods, ores, coal, agricultural products, other dry bulk goods, large containers, Ro-Ro mobile units, forestry products, iron/steel products and other general cargo. The first four types constitute 'liquid bulk', the subsequent four types 'dry bulk', and the last three types 'other general cargo not elsewhere specified', as presented in Figures 3 and 11 to 16.


Abbreviations

: not available
- not applicable
Mio  million
Nes Not elsewhere specified
Ro-Ro Roll-on/roll-off
TEU Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit


Quarterly data are in general provisional. Revisions may be made by countries as more complete information becomes available or as a result of quality checks. More specifically, when the complete set of annual data emerges, this usually involves some revision of quarterly data for some countries. This applies particularly to the quarterly estimates of port traffic by type of cargo, which are less robust than the annual totals.

Annual data as presented in this publication are the ‘rolling‘ four quarter totals ending in the latest quarter and the corresponding four quarters for earlier years. As a result, the four quarters included do not necessarily come from the same calendar year. For example, the ‘annual’ growth rate in Figure 1 shows the percentage change for the four quarters ending in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the four quarters ending in the third quarter of 2020.

The basic results (in million tonnes) and the derived indicators (growth rates) shown in the tables are rounded. However, they are all based on non-rounded original data, as available in Eurostat's database.

Specific remarks for data up to and including the third quarter of 2021:

  • The quarterly data for port activity in France have been partially estimated by Eurostat for the period 2009 Q1-2016 Q1. These data are to be considered as provisional and are likely to be revised. In general, such estimates reduce the accuracy of the statistics at detailed levels.
  • Starting from 2013 Q1, the quarterly figures for Germany include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports).
  • In 2021 Q1, the quarterly figures for Greece do not include data for a number ports because they were below the threshold of 1 million tonnes in 2020, due to COVID-19 pandemic or due to reduced industrial activity.
  • Starting from 2011 Q1, the quarterly figures for Spain include data for a number of regional ports outside the state-controlled port system.
  • Starting from 2018 Q1, quarterly figures for Portugal include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports). In 2021 Q2 and Q3, data for the port of Lisbon are not included.
  • Starting from 2013 Q1, the quarterly figures for Sweden include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports).

Due to revisions of the underlying data, figures in this article may differ from figures currently or previously available on Eurostat's web site.

Context

The content of this statistical article is based on data collected within the framework of the EU maritime transport statistics Directive 2009/42/EC of 6 May 2009 on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea), which is a recast of the original Council Directive 95/64/EC of 8 December 1995.


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